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How to Start Transforming Your Workplace

July 1, 2014 - 9 Comments

It’s clear that many of you understand the benefits of creating activity-based work environments. You want to create spaces in which employees can work wherever, whenever, and with whomever they need to in order to deliver results for your customers. You know you can attract the best talent by removing geographical barriers. You want to create environments that foster productivity and innovation. Your business can save on CapEx, space requirements, and energy costs.

So how do you get started with workplace transformation? Is it time to start ripping out cubicle walls and reclaiming conference rooms as team huddle spaces? Not quite.

Workplace transformation is about more than just the physical environment. It’s about how you enable people to work together better, no matter where they are. And the best way to do that is to fully understand the needs of your workforce – both current and future. And to identify how your employees can best support the needs of your customers and your business.

I asked my colleague Hans Hwang, our vice president of Collaboration Advanced Services, how companies can get started. Here’s some of his advice:

  • A good first step is to understand the needs of your business. Identify your priorities and your pain points. Develop a collaboration strategy that aligns with these, making sure to accommodate different work activities and personality types.
  • From the very beginning, be sure to consider how you incorporate BYOD, wireless, immersive video, virtual office, and physical security into your overall strategy.
  • Ensure that IT engages with HR, corporate real estate, and facilities planners early in the process. Align workplace strategies to the collaboration strategy and minimize facilities rework as the efforts take shape.

Like many journeys, you may know where you want to be but aren’t sure of the route to get there. Engaging your HR and corporate real estate peers in a serious conversation about your goals is a great place to start.

You don’t have to go it alone. Cisco works closely with your space designers, real estate management firms, architects and furniture vendors to ensure that workplace transformation efforts are centered on user experience and maximize the benefits to your employees, customers and your business. We can connect you to the right partner or help scope out the services you need to achieve your desired results.

What steps have you taken to get started? Let me know in the comments below.

This post wraps up Carl’s four-part series in which he explores how a more flexible, agile, and collaboration-centric work environment benefits your business. Read the first, second, and third posts here:

– Message to IT: Lead the Charge in Creating the Workplace of the Future
– Collaboration Technology and the Future Workplace
– Work is What You Do (Not Where You Go)

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  1. Dear Mr. WIESE,
    I’m a big fan of your book.
    In my blog about collaboration and the business environment I talk to my readers how your book transform my vision as an small brazilian businessman.
    I’m very happy to continue tell people in my network about this subject. The next speech will be next 25th, july in the Strategic Comittee of Amcham (American Chamber of Commerce for Brazil)in my city (Goiânia).
    I’d like to tell you, Mr. Wiese and your partner, mr. Ricci for sharing such good ideas in a very good book, like this “The Collaboration Imperative” (and thanks, Barnes & Noble for provide us, their customers with it).
    Best Regards,
    Adalberto, from Brazil.

    • Adalberto,

      Thanks for the kind words. I am glad you have found the book useful.


  2. This has been a fantastic series Carl, thanks very mush for sharing these learnings. We have been working on a Webinar Series in Canada around Workplace Transformation and pulled in folks from HOK, Mayhew and Stanford University to look at various work styles and modes as well as connecting Collab results to business needs. All these sessions were recorded and can be accessed here

    I cannot wait to see how these new workplaces both improve employees quality of life and improve the flow of business, but also being to reflect their brands and corporate culture.

    • Kevin,

      Thanks for the note and it is great to hear about the progress you are making. I would love to understand what outcomes you see from your workplace transformation projects.


  3. Carl,
    Congratulations for the quality of your post, it is very interesting. Totally agree with you, as Manager we have to find ways to better engage our people.

  4. It is an interesting article. Likewise as technology evolves it must happen with the way things are done. In this particular case, the way our processes are operated alongside with technology. We all should be open to changes and foresee the potential benefits. To be successful this strategy, stakeholders and senior managers should be involved as this is the only way to ensure success in any change in the organization.

    • Viviana,

      I agree with your comment as managers and stakeholders must be an active part of the process to ensure success.


  5. Carl – terrific recommendations. As we wrote in The Collaboration Imperative(, any workplace transformation is a good opportunity to examine a team’s work culture and processes. As leaders and managers, we all have to find ways to better engage our people. I’d also suggest that any manager leading a workplace transformations proactively create “white spaces” for your teams to express their points of view on the transformation Give them a voice in the their workplace of the future! Cisco’s new workspaces look entirely different from our cube universe of the past — and it was designed by our people!